If the festive season sees you hurtling, train wreck-like, towards corpulence and toxicity, you do know it doesn’t have to be that way. CLAIRE O’MAHONY rounds up some solid expert advice to help minimise any drastic 2017 resolutions.
Hurrah for Christmas clichés. From Indiana Jones on the TV to office party misbehaviour, tut-tutting about the Twelve Pubs of Christmas and the unavoidable sparkly outfit, there’s a lot to love. Less appealing is the annual cycle of over- indulgence and bitter regret that sees us lurch from box of Heroes to bottle of Baileys, knowing that hard months of reckoning lie ahead, yet unable to stop ourselves from leaping, lemming-like, into a cheeseboard.
If you would prefer not to spend the early part of 2017 in stretch pants and block booking spin classes, the good news is that there is a simple answer – don’t be a glutton, keep working out, and put down the mulled wine. Simple, we said, but certainly not easy. Tragically, there is no magic bullet – no chia seed pudding, no vinegar shot, no ten-minute gym routine and no revolutionary way of eating that can negate scientific principles – eat rubbish, don’t move, and you’ll feel awful and gain weight. Physical health aside, there are aspects to Christmas that undermine psychological wellbeing, including unhappy family dynamics and the pressure to have the time of your life. But there are still painless pointers to take on board to help you stay on the path of healthfulness, in terms of mind and body. Adapting the middle ground is never the sexiest or most on-trend thing to do, but it does make sense.
HERE IS THE EXPERT ADVICE FROM SARAH KEOGH.
Sarah Keogh is a qualified dietitian with a degree in human nutrition and dietetics and a master’s in EU food regulation. She runs food and nutrition consultancy Eatwell.
NOT SURPRISINGLY, ALCOHOL IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST PITFALLS when we drink, any caution we have goes to the wind, and you’re hungrier from the alcohol anyway, so you’ll eat even more for that reason. Alcohol also makes you hungrier the next day. If you’re watching your weight, I would limit how many nights you go out drinking because overall that will have a big impact. You can be the designated driver a few nights, so pick the nights you want to celebrate and on the others, enjoy the social aspect, but maybe still keep an eye on the alcohol. Drinks such as clear spirits with soda are lower calorie, but they still have the same appetite-stimulating effect. Personally, I’d rather choose the night I go out to have a drink and enjoy the drink I want, rather than martyr myself through drinks I don’t actually enjoy, just for the sake of having some alcohol and lower calories.
THE AVERAGE FESTIVE WEIGHT GAIN IS THREE TO FIVE POUNDS. However, it varies. We’re a bit predisposed to putting on weight over winter anyway. We don’t do much exercise, and we tend to eat fattier foods, but you will get some people who put on considerably more. I have no problem with people enjoying Christmas, but people go mad for two months and then wonder why they have put on weight. Christmas is actually only one day on a calendar. The run-up to Christmas can start in the middle of November and go right through to the middle of January – and that’s where you’re going to find you put on an awful lot more weight if you let it go on for that bit longer.
HAVE YOUR THREE MEALS but the size of the plate you use should be if you put your hand flat on the table, spread out your fingers and draw a circle around that. That’s a good size for everybody – small hand, small plate. If you get hungry in between, have a snack, but if you don’t, then leave well alone.
DON’T STOCK UP FOR IRELAND People tend to shop as if there are 85 people coming over to the house. If you’re not going to throw out all those tins of biscuits, you’re going to end up eating them. I think it’s just that attitude that Irish people have, that the famine is going to turn up in the next 36 hours, and they should really stock up.
This article originallly appeared in the December issue of IMAGE magazine.